Originating from the Pico lakes, the Rio Pico is another favorite fishery at Chile West. It flows east to west from Argentina into Chile.
From the last lake tributary on the Argentine side to the mouth where it meets the Rio Figueroa, the Rio Pico is approximately 23 miles in length. There are roughly 13.5 miles of river in Argentina. The average elevation drop here is about 12 feet per mile except for the two and half miles of the canyon section where the elevation drop is around 110 feet per mile. The 10 miles of river that run through Chile have an elevation drop of about 27 feet per mile.
The Rio Pico has structure similar to that of the Rio Tigre but it’s a bit larger and doesn’t have quite as steep a gradient – these two factors combine to make it more navigable than the Rio Tigre.
Access is very limited. There are only a few access points in the very lower river – namely the first few miles that run along the road. Of this lower section, a half mile is better described as kayaking water.
Access to the upper portion of the river is a bit of a drive from ‘civilization’, which makes this river very secluded. More importantly, the weather in the Rio Pico area is almost always dry. It may rain all day in La Junta and be sunny all day on the Rio Pico, and that’s one of the reasons we like it!
This is a classic stream with a variety of water suitable for pretty much any trout fishing technique you can think of. Depending on water conditions one can fish on foot all day or float. The river holds brown and rainbow trout and is also a spawning ground for Chinook salmon.
Hot local tip: Don’t try to be cool and call it ‘The Pico’! In Chile, ‘the pico’ refers to a certain pointed part of the male anatomy. It’s the ‘Rio Pico’. Always say Rio!
The Rio Pico is a bit of a drive from our home base in La Junta but at Chile West we put this river at the top of our list of things to do. Great fishing, tons of variety, extremely consistent dry weather, and nary a soul around – what could be better?